“Families,” St. John Paul II famously exhorted us, “become what you are!”
As newlyweds 20 years ago, we spent zero time thinking about what the Holy Trinity—whom the Church celebrates on today’s Solemnity—meant for our marriage or dreams of starting a family. Whatever the doctrine of the Trinity had to say about the dynamics of the inner life of God, we left that to the theologians. For us, each day became a blur of diapers, dishes, commutes, and bills.
Five kids later, every aspect of our lives seems shot through—illumined, blessed, ennobled—by the Trinity. As a family, we’ve consecrated ourselves to the Holy Trinity. We strive to do life in a “Trinitarian key.” Over dinner, we try to connect our kids’ questions about our society’s toxic “culture of the Big Me” with insights found in God’s own life and identity.
Like any family, we faceplant all the time. But we keep getting up and inviting the Trinity to sustain us. Together we ask the Trinity for healing and grace, and we’ve even taken to calling our home—our “domestic church”—a “Trinity house.”
So how did this turnaround happen?
For the longest time, it seemed the holiness of God’s life was distant from our family. Sainthood might be within reach for martyrs, solitary medieval mystics, and clergy, but not for our young, chaotic family.
Over time, we came to see how wrong we were. We realized that our messy little household already had a big head-start—because our family and the Holy Trinity share a stunning similarity: we are both a “communion of persons.”
“The Christian family,” the Catechism declares, “is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.” In our family life, the “procreation and education of children” can “reflect the Father’s work of creation.” Our family is “called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ” as well as the “evangelizing and missionary task.” (2205) Rather than being distant, these dynamics of the Trinity already belong to our family.
We’re not trying to sell you on some positive-thinking mantra, that by repeating “my family is a little icon of the Trinity,” you can trick your mind into thinking that your family is like God. No. What we’re saying is that the Church teaches that your family is already an icon of the Trinity.
“Families,” St. John Paul II famously exhorted us, “become what you are!” Instead of trying to find your family’s identity in busyness, comfort, screens, or getting into the best schools, become what you are. Instead of comparing your family to others, become what you are.
Become more like God’s communion of persons: loving, self-giving, other-centered, available, receptive, interdependent, bonded, and creative. Like the Trinity, don’t be content with an inward focus, but reach out to your neighborhood, your parish (a “family of families”), and the world.
In daily, practical ways, we can align these Trinitarian attributes with our family’s communion of persons—when we honor the Sabbath, listen attentively to our spouse, respond lovingly to our children’s needs, linger over a delicious dinner, lead the family in the evening Rosary, do the chores, host neighbors, or roll up the sleeves for a family service project. In these and many other ways, our families can partake in the joy of God’s own life.
Twenty years into our marriage, we no longer think of the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity as a blip on the liturgical map. We have accepted the challenge to become what we are, to conform to the image we bear, and yes, even to do tonight’s dishes, to the glory of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
To unite your family even more with the Holy Trinity, consider the following prayer:
Most Holy Trinity, thank you for the gift of our family. Heavenly Father, you created us in your image and welcome us as your beloved children. Jesus, you serve us with your life, death, and resurrection in the ongoing sacraments and life of the Church. Holy Spirit, you listen to our prayers and intercede for us. Lord, strengthen us as we seek to welcome, listen to, and serve one another with greater love each day. Heal any wounds that prevent us from sharing your life-giving love. Show our family how to more faithfully reflect your image in our home, relationships, and work. We invite you to dwell with us in our home—our Trinity House—as we seek to love one another as you first loved us. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.